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While the COVID pandemic sweeps across the country, everything feels uncertain. As you work to keep your organization stable and successful, Philanthropy Daily will remain a resource for you with COVID-related articles and a new webinar series.

Do things feel as surreal to you as they do to me? I’ve been through 9/11, swine flu, avian flu, SARS, and much else besides, and have never experienced anything quite like we are experiencing now in the midst of COVID-19. It’s tough to know what to do. It seems like every decision has to be rethought, every goal reconsidered. This is not a comfortable position for a leader to be in.

Needless to say, the economic impact of the pandemic will be significant, and that can be very disconcerting for nonprofit leaders. Philanthropy usually decreases when household budgets get tight. Surely that is on your mind right now—how will you keep donation revenue coming in during the COVID crisis?

The most important thing is that you cannot stop fundraising.

Unless you have substantial non-philanthropic revenue sources, fundraising is almost certainly the engine of your organization. Cutting back on development is the surest way to hurt your organization in the long run.

Last week, my colleague Justin Streiff advised that you not up-end your strategy. This is true, but there is no question that in the short term your tactical approach may need to change.

That is why over the next few weeks Philanthropy Daily will run a steady stream of articles focused on fundraising during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Check in here on Mondays and Wednesdays for articles addressing how to keep your development program strong, making the most of a difficult time.

This Wednesday, Jeff Trimbath—previously a major-gifts officer for the Heritage Foundation—will describe how Heritage emerged successfully from the 2008 recession. Spoiler alert: they did not soften their focus on fundraising. They drilled down on development instead.

On Thursday, look for another piece from Justin Streiff on how to run a major-donor meeting over a Zoom call. You might find yourself scheduling plenty of those over the next several weeks.

We want to make sure that we are a resource for you during this stressful time. We will offer strategic advice, and we will do all we can to stay on top of developments and to think through how they are likely to impact the nonprofit sector, both in the short term and in the intermediate term—and what you ought to do in response.

If you would like to have a focused conversation about the COVID-19 pandemic, please feel free to reach out to me or one of my colleagues. It’s quite likely that you will want to pivot in activities like digital donor communications, direct mail, major gifts, donor messaging, and, needless to say, fundraising events. We would be happy to talk to you about that.

Finally, keep an eye out for a new weekly webinar series hosted by American Philanthropic and Philanthropy Daily.

Through the end of April, you can join us every Thursday from 2:00 to 3:00 (Eastern) on a webinar to discuss fundraising through the coronavirus.

Sign up here to register for the webinar series and feel free to join us any time in that one-hour window. American Philanthropic leadership and Philanthropy Daily authors will discuss that week’s articles and field an open Q&A from participants.

Come with your questions about how to tweak your fundraising program in light of the pandemic. We will cover the following topics over the next seven weeks:

  • March 19: Major gifts
  • March 26: Direct mail
  • April 2: In-person events
  • April 9: Foundations and grants
  • April 16: Data analytics and strategic planning
  • April 23: Social media and marketing
  • April 30: Development personnel

This is a stressful time no matter what your industry—but we want to help those in the nonprofit industry pull through to the other side. Sharing ideas, insights, and wisdom with one another can’t hurt. We owe that much, at least, to those people and communities our organizations seek to help.

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